FPA wins UKAS accreditation to assess effectiveness of external cladding

The Fire Protection Association (FPA) has won the right to carry out BS8414 tests backed by UKAS accreditation.

BS8414, which comprises two parts, concerns the fire performance of external cladding systems.

Developed by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) BS 8414 test methods evaluate whether a cladding system, subject to fire breaking out of an opening (like a window) in an external wall, will result in excessive fire spread up the outside of the building – creating a risk of fire re-entering the building via a higher level.

Part one – BS 8414-1:2015 – is a test method for non-load-bearing external cladding systems applied to the masonry face of a building. Amended in June 2017, it can be used to test rainscreen cladding and external wall insulation systems.

BS 8414-2:2015, meanwhile, concerns non-load-bearing external cladding systems fixed to, and supported by, a structural steel frame, also later amended in June 2017.

Tests are conducted in specialist laboratories using full-scale systems that include joints and corner details, fixings, insulation, fire breaks, cavities and other elements of system construction.

A shortage of accredited facilities means it can be difficult to secure bookings. Even when a slot is found it can take months to receive results, delaying building work.

The FPA’s Moreton-in-Marsh and Blockley sites in Gloucestershire deliver results that often exceed legislative guidelines, according to the association.

There are two rigs for commercial 8414 testing, which can test against both Part 1 and Part 2. A half-sized rig is also available to test bespoke elements, such as a window or other opening to more closely replicate a real-life scenario.

“We have been instrumental in guiding legislation in the pursuit of thorough cladding testing and use of non-combustible materials, so this accreditation is vital to highlight our expertise,” said FPA MD Jonathan O’Neill. “Our experienced laboratory staff are able to guide our customers through the testing process, while providing independent and impartial results.

As we have only just received accreditation we are able to offer availability for urgent testing requirements at competitive prices, as the Fire Protection Association is a not-for-profit organisation. We also pride ourselves on fast reporting turnaround times, usually providing the 8414 report within two weeks of testing.”

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